Latin 215: Cicero's pro Archia
 



The Romans and Greek Culture

"We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have their roots in Greece. But for Greece--Rome, the instructor, the conqueror, or the metropolis of our ancestors, would have spread no illumination with her arms, and we might still have been savages and idolators; or, what is worse, might have arrived at such a stagnant and miserable state as China and Japan possess."

~P.B. Shelley, Hellas: lyrico drama (1821).
 

"It is right for Greeks to rule over barbarians, but not barbarians, mother, over Greeks; for they are slavish, but Greeks are free"

~Euripides, Iphigeneia at Aulus, 1400-1.
 

"Who made common cause with you now or what kind of an alliance do you invite them to enter? Is it not an alliance with barbarians?

~A Greek ambassador chastising the Aetolians for being the first Greek people to make an alliance with the Romans (Polybius, Histories, 9.37.5-6).
 

A Roman Approach-Avoidance Conflict towards Things Greek?
Some State Action at Rome Against Hellenism:

213 BC: foreign writings on religious matter confiscated and destroyed by the Roman Senate (Livy, History, 25.1.6-12).
181 BC: Greek philosophical writings destroyed (Livy, 40.29.2-14).
173 BC: Two Greek (Epicurean) philosophers expelled from Rome (Athenaeus, 12.547a).
161 BC: Senate takes emergency measures to rid Rome of Greek philosophers and rhetoric teachers (Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, 15.11.1).
155 BC: Cato works to hasten the departure from Rome of a Greek embassy of philosophers (Plutarch, Cato the Elder, 22; Pliny, Natural History, 7.112).

The Triumph of Hellenism at Rome?

Vergil, Aeneid, 6.847-53
excudunt alii spirantia mollius aera
(credo equidem), vivos ducent de marmore vultus,
orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus
describent radio et surgentia sidera dicent:
tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
(hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem
parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.

"Others will cast more tenderly in bronze
Their breathing figures, I can well believe,
And bring more lifelike portraits out of marble;
Argue more eloquently, use the pointer
To trace the paths of heaven accurately
And accurately foretell the rising stars.
Roman, remember by your strength to rule
Earth's peoples-for your arts are to be these:
To pacify, to impose the rule of law,
To spare the conquered, battle down the proud." (trans. R. Fitzgerald).

Horace, Epistles, 2.1.156-7
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes
intulit agresti Latio.

"Captured Greece seized the ferocious victor and
brought the arts into rustic Latium."